When you say:
» That’s true, but pictures will give someone a general idea.
I have to tell you: pictures are only helpful when one has already seen many plants in-person. What follows is an excerpt from a post I wrote years ago – I hope it’s of interest:
Before my first transplant, I relied on pictures. I thought that photographs could give me a very good idea of results. I felt it was enough to be aware of obvious problems: the use of flash, different pre and post op hairstyles, subtle use of concealers like Toppik or Dermatch, flattering angles, etc. I thought that good pictures – and indeed there are good pictures on the net (e.g. Jotronic’s H&W work) – would certainly show me what I needed to know. I was wrong.
A few months after my first procedure I decided to call transplant doctors in the NYC metro area, and ask to meet with some of their finished patients. I was surprised at how many HT practices and patients there are – and how relatively few were willing to meet. But even relatively few adds up after some months. I saw more than 20 patients in person over a 9 month period. I had a definite plan. First, if they were agreeable, I had them send me photos online. I wanted to make a comparison between these photos and my in-person impressions. Second, I wanted to avoid the agenda-laden hyperaware patients from boards like these, and although I did wind up seeing quite a few patients from well-known doctors, for the most part these were friendly non-obsessive types willing to share results and experiences for the price of a few drinks. I don’t believe any patient I met with posts on any HT board; I asked them all, and they all said no. A few were fascinated by the idea. Some sent pictures taken by their doctors; some had taken their own photos, videos, etc. Out of the 18 patients who agreed to send me photos, 7 of the transplants looked good or even excellent based on the photographs. None of these were obviously doctored photos, although almost all of them were taken with flash.
The upshot. I was shocked by the appearance of these patients in daylight. Without exception, all of the patients had hair that was essentially see-through. Only one patient looked passable to me. He had had 4 strip procedures and estimated his total at over 6500 grafts. He had ideal hair characteristics according to his doctor and I could see that was true. Coarse, curly dark hair on an olive complexion. It did not look good by any means, but he didn’t look especially balding. All the other patients did. I would never criticize someone’s HT, esp. as they were kind enough to meet with a stranger and show me the work. So, I reacted positively to all of them and we soon wound up speaking about things other than hairloss. They were all good guys – this hairloss bullsh*t brings out the best in some people, oddly enough. All of them were so polite that no one even asked me to take off my cap. Most assumed I was just a guy with hairloss thinking about getting HT. I never told anyone I had gone to Cole.
The 7 photos I had initially found acceptable shared two things in common. They all had their hair brushed straight back, Patrick Riley style, and they all had relatively more grafts than the other 11 patients with obviously disappointing photos. None of the patients had work done before 1998, and most of the work was done in the last 3 years.
My point. Although 20 patients isn’t a great sample size, here are my conclusions. HT photos, even those taken under ideal conditions, are outrageously misleading. Texture of the hair, lay of the hair, fatal unnatural subtle flaws of a hairline – you simply cannot see these in photos. And broad daylight is a killer. If you are serious about HT, make sure you see patients in person. Nothing – nothing is more important. Finally, if you want a result that even vaguely stands up to a sunny windy day, make sure before you take the plunge that you have your expectations and hair characteristics in line. I’m afraid even the best HT prospects are going to wind up batting .250 in most cases. Get tons of grafts. You’ll need every one for that bright sunny day.